It's been a while since the Orioles have played the Yankees and it has been a disappointing couple of months for both teams. They entered the last series with it being a battle for second place in the American League East. It's now a battle for third place, with both teams on the outside looking in by a margin of several games in the wild card race. Both the O's and the Yankees have played exactly .500 baseball since the beginning of the last series where they faced each other.
With the number of games remaining shrinking and the stakes ever increasing, I joined with Tanya Bondurant, my friend and counterpart at Pinstriped Bible, to come up with some random questions to predict things in the series. We offered our guesses to each. Feel free to make your own in the comments below.
Last time, Tanya edged me by getting one more question correct. I will try to restore the honor of O's fans this time around.
1. Which will be higher: Chris Stewart passed balls vs. Chris Davis home runs?
Tanya: Take the over on both, whatever the over is. Stewart has been pretty bad defensively, but I have hope that he won't play every game of the series like Davis will. Davis gets to face Hughes, so advantage Davis.
Mark: I have watched a few Yankees games this year, and one of the things that is striking is how bad Stewart looks behind the plate. Eight passed balls in 80 starts is a lot, but not more than Davis hits home runs. I will go for Davis as well.
Mark: It's an awful stretch of baseball for Markakis, so I would bet on just about anything over him getting an extra-base hit. He went over a month without one, got two in the same game on Sunday and has been dry since. I'll take Soriano.
Tanya: It's hard to argue against Soriano, who has been a revelation since returning to New York. He's not a 40 stolen base threat at this stage of his career but Wieters is Wieters and Markakis has the benefit of facing Hughes. I'll say Markakis.
Tanya: Miguel Gonzalez has the Yankees' number for whatever reason but the lineup as currently constructed is a little deeper than it was the last time he faced them. I expect he'll do well, but not well enough that the two hitters won't accumulate at least one more hit than his innings total in their multiple games.
Mark: In a rare display of honest-to-goodness optimism from me about the Orioles, I'm going to pick Gonzalez. I like him to continue his solid starts against the Yankees with more than six innings and I don't think the Yankees infield tandem will top that.
Mark: I take back the optimism. We're due for a bad Johnson reappearance. On the other hand, we're also due for the Orioles to completely fail to score runs in the late innings of games. Still, I'll go with Johnson.
Tanya: I'd marry Robertson's curveball if I could. Really, that thing is beautiful. I don't believe in Jim Johnson after watching his struggles this season, so I'm taking Robertson.
Mark: Tanya and the curveball sittin' in a tree...
Tanya: I'm afraid of the lingering effects that getting hit on the hand earlier this week will have on Cano in the short-term. For that reason, I'll say Jones.
Mark: Out of the two of us, you're the Yankees expert, so if you're down on Cano, I'm not going to be high on Cano. I'll also go with Jones.
6. Which batter will have the most total bases?
Mark: Davis is due to have another streak where he homers in three straight games. Might as well be this series. Right?
Tanya: Chris Davis in Yankee Stadium against a couple pitchers who have struggled this season or struggled very recently. Honorable mention to Soriano, though, who is partying like it's 2002 out there.
7. Which starting pitcher will have the longest outing in innings pitched?
Tanya: CC Sabathia has shown signs of life recently. If he's up to his old tricks again, he can hang around in a game with a long leash from Joe Girardi.
Mark: Ivan Nova pitched a complete game against the Orioles in his last time against them. That was the first of seven straight starts where he went at least seven innings. Like an aging general, I'll fight the last war and say Nova.
8. How many total runs will each team score in the series?
Mark: It would be very 2013 Orioles to win one blowout and lose two close games. 14 runs for the O's to 12 runs for the Yankees.
Tanya: The last really ugly series loss for the Yankees sparked a hot streak and I'm hoping the embarrassment in Toronto does that again. I'll say 15 runs for the Yankees and 13 runs for the Orioles.
What do you think?